You’ve probably heard it since you were a little kid: candy will rot your teeth. That may not be entirely true, but it is a fact that eating candy can cause damage to the enamel of your teeth. This kind of wear and tear can lead to other serious problems and needs to be avoided. So which candies are the worst for your teeth? This article explains why some candies are worse than others and what you can do to prevent tooth enamel damage.
What is Tooth Enamel Damage?
Tooth enamel is the outer covering over your tooth. Though it’s quite thin, it’s actually the toughest tissue in the human body and it helps protect your teeth. Unfortunately, even the strongest tissue can still be damaged under certain circumstances. Even worse, this is one kind of tissue that cannot be repaired or replaced. Tooth enamel damage is permanent.
Your diet directly affects the condition of your tooth enamel. Drinking things with lots of acids and eating lots of sugars and starches can lead to erosion of the tooth enamel. That’s why candies have been so closely identified with this type of damage to the teeth.
Tooth enamel damage leads to several complications, including painful or sensitive teeth as well as cracking or chipping teeth. As the enamel becomes more damaged, your teeth become more and more susceptible to decay and cavities. In serious cases, an infection may occur or teeth can even be lost to severe enamel damage.
The Worst Candies for Your Teeth
Since most candies are packed with sugar, they are all capable of causing damage to your tooth enamel. However, some candies are much worse for your teeth than others. The worst candies for your teeth are sour candies. These products have high amounts of citric, fumaric and malic acids, all of which cause damage to the enamel of your teeth. The damage extends across all types of sour candies, from gummy sour candies to sour powders to hard sour candies.
The differences between regular candies and sour candies can be very high. In one study, sour Mike and Ike’s were found to cause 92 percent more tooth enamel erosion than regular Mike and Ike’s. That’s why it’s so important to limit the amount of sour candies you eat. In addition, you should avoid holding sour candies in your mouth for a long time since that allows the acids in these products to do even more damage to your enamel.
Though sour candies are considered the worst for your teeth, here are a couple other candies that can cause tooth enamel damage that you should be aware of as well:
- Gummy candies: Any gummy or extra-chewy candies are likely to be stickier, and therefore they are likely to stay on your teeth for longer.
- Hard candies: Candies that you hold and suck on in your mouth are especially bad since they stay in your mouth for longer and give the enamel additional exposure to acids and sugars. In addition, chewing on or breaking hard candies can cause damage to tooth enamel.
Tips for Preventing Tooth Enamel Damage
Fortunately, you don’t have to avoid candy altogether to protect your tooth enamel. Instead, simply improve your dental hygiene habits and make a few adjustments in the way that you eat candy and your teeth should be safe from unnecessary damage. Here are a few tips for preventing erosion of your tooth enamel:
- Cut down on the amount of candy that you consume. Try to limit your intake to one or two snacks per day, and make sure that you are not always choosing one of the higher risk candies mentioned above (sour candies, hard candies or gummy candies).
- Drink water or brush your teeth after eating candy to wash away some of the harmful sugars and acids. Us a fluoride toothpaste or fluoride rinse for the best results since these products help remineralize enamel that has been damaged. You should also drink plenty of water throughout the day to combat dry mouth, which can make tooth enamel erosion worse.
- Eat candy with a meal rather than on its own. Your saliva flow will be higher during a meal, allowing less of the candy to stick to your teeth. You should also avoid eating the candy very slowly over a longer period of time. Instead, select your serving and eat it in one sitting. This reduces the damage done to your tooth enamel.
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating candy. This also increases your saliva flow and may help to remove and particles of candy that have become stuck to your teeth.
- See your dentist regularly or if you are experiencing any tooth pain. Getting regular cleanings and going in for any unusual symptoms is the best way to protect your teeth and make sure your enamel is in good condition.